And the records directly produced by it consist of Assembly Books, Assembly Files, Assembly Petitions, & minutes of Assembly Committees.
The minute or ASSEMBLY BOOKS contain the formal orders of the corporation, and the first volume begins in 1539. Before this occasional orders of the Assembly were recorded in the Mayors' Books, q.v., and a few stray orders for the period 1407-1535 have now been placed with the Assembly Files. The orders recorded in the Assembly Books cover all aspects of corporation business, and as the chief officers of the city were also ex-officio Justices of the Peace, much of the administrative work of the justices, e.g. the administration of the poor law in the city, was dealt with by the Assembly. A calendar of the Assembly orders for the early seventeenth century has been printed in Calendar of the Chester Council Minutes 1603-1642, edited by Margaret J. Groombridge, Record Society for Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 106, 1956, and the introduction describes the work of the Assembly at this period.
For records of the inner cabinet of the Assembly from 1696 onwards, see Mayors' Inner Pentice Files.
The ASSEMBLY FILES contain the background papers to the Assembly Books. They include attendance lists, marked to show members present, rough drafts of proceedings, sometimes indicating voting, draft minutes of final entries in the Assembly Books, election papers showing the voting at the annual election of city officers, the original petitions considered by the Assembly, usually marked with details of voting and the order made, reports of committees, letters etc. addressed to the corporation. The Files, although badly damaged are remarkably complete and add immeasurably to the information contained in the Assembly Books.
During the sixteenth century, there are indications that the petitions considered by the Assembly were sometimes filed on the Assembly Files and sometimes filed separately. Those filed separately have, therefore, been treated as a separate class of ASSEMBLY PETITIONS.
References to the appointment of committees by the Assembly are found in the Assembly Books from the sixteenth century onwards and reports of these committees were also recorded in the Assembly Books. Most of these committees were purely ad hoc committees, but committees of a semi-standing nature relating to Corporation estates and finance began to be appointed in the post-Restoration period, and from c.1700 minutes of some Assembly committees are found in the Assembly Files. There is also a separate ASSEMBLY COMMITTEES MINUTE BOOK containing minutes of both standing and ad hoc committees of the Assembly from 1805 to 1835.